Sometime we have confusion on the position of demigods. We also observe that Vaishnavas, especially Gaudiya vaishnavas, do not worship demigods whereas the spiritual master and acharya are worshiped thrice a day! Is it mere sentimentalism or is there a solid philosophy behind it. Srimad Bhagavatam answers this question in the below verse, as to whose shelter devotees should seek, and it’s very instructive purport on the position of demigods.
sarvato manaso ’saṅgam ādau saṅgaṁ ca sādhuṣu
dayāṁ maitrīṁ praśrayaṁ ca bhūteṣv addhā yathocitam
A sincere disciple should learn to dissociate the mind from everything material and positively cultivate association with his spiritual master and other saintly devotees. He should be merciful to those in an inferior position to him, cultivate friendship with those on an equal level and meekly serve those in a higher spiritual position. Thus he should learn to deal properly with all living beings.
High position of demigods
Śrīla Madhvācārya has quoted from the Garuḍa Purāṇa to demonstrate that within this universe those who take birth as demigods, great ṛṣis or pious human beings are all considered santaḥ, or saintly persons. According to Bhagavad-gītā,traiguṇya-viṣayā vedāḥ: the varṇāśrama culture described in Vedic literature deals mostly with the living entities who are struggling within the three modes of nature. The Vedic literatures teach such conditioned souls that material happiness can be achieved only through pious works. In this sense, the demigods are to be considered the most pious living entities within the three modes of material nature. The ṛṣis, or the great saintly mystics of the universe, who are able to travel at will to various planets and who cultivate mystic powers, are to be considered somewhat below the demigods. And those human beings on earth who perfectly execute the Vedic rituals are to be considered in the third or lowest category of santaḥ, or saintly persons.
Pure devotees transcends the material modes
But a devotee of the Lord is beyond the three modes of material nature. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gītā (14.26):
māṁ ca yo ’vyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate
“One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.” Thus Lord Krishna clearly says that a Vaiṣṇava who does not fall down from the regulations of bhakti-yoga is beyond the three modes of nature. And Lord Krishna advised Arjuna, a Krishna-bhakta, to transcend the three material qualities of the illusory creation of māyā (nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna).
What about demigods?
In the Eighteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (18.40) the Lord says:
na tad asti pṛthivyāṁ vā divi deveṣu vā punaḥ
sattvaṁ prakṛti-jair muktaṁ yad ebhiḥ syāt tribhir guṇaiḥ
“There is no being existing, either here or among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, who is free from the three modes of material nature.” Thus the demigods are not exempt from the pollution of the three modes of material nature, whereas a pure devotee actually becomes guṇātīta, or transcendental to the influence of māyā.
Therefore, one should cultivate the association of the uttama-adhikārī, or pure devotee of the Lord, as stated previously (Bhāg. 11.3.21):
tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam
“Therefore any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters.”…
One cannot be liberated without association with a pure devotee of the Lord.
As aspiring devotees, many a times, we feel alone, sometimes even helpless. We, however, forget that Krishna as Supersoul is always with us. Due to our ignorance and dull consciousness we may not be able to see Krishna’s hand in our journey towards Him but He is very much with us. Similarly we may not be able to appreciate and value how Krishna as Supersoul is sitting in our heart and is inspiring us to progress towards Him at every stage in our Krishna consciousness journey. Supersoul plays a very important role in the journey of a devotee. Let us find out how we can connect with Supersoul, hear His voice and take guidance from Him.
Śrī Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the Supersoul and guide of all living entities who have accepted material bodies within this world. He is the supreme controller of all material activities in material nature. He is also our best friend, and everyone should take shelter at His lotus feet. In doing so, one’s life will be auspicious.
Krishna is very close!
In Bhagavad-gītā (18.61) it is said, īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati: “The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna.” The living entity is within the body, and the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is also there. He is called antaryāmīand caitya-guru. As Lord Krishna states in Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), He is controlling everything:
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.”
Should I take directions from Supersoul?
Everything is being directed by the Supersoul within the body; therefore the better part of valor is to take His direction and be happy. To take His directions, one needs to be a devotee, and this is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (10.10):
“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”
Paramatma is our ‘old’ friend
In His Paramatma feature, Krishna is the old friend of everyone. According to Vedic injunction, Krishna is sitting with the living entity side by side. According to the sruti-mantra (dvä suparëä sayujä sakhäyäù), the Lord is sitting within the heart of every living entity as suhrt, the best friend. The Lord is always eager to have the living entity come home, back to Godhead. Sitting with the living entity as witness, the Lord gives him all chances to enjoy himself materially, but whenever there is an opportunity, the Lord gives good counsel and advises the living entity to abandon trying to become happy through material adjustment and instead turn his face toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrender unto Him.
Can I start talking with Supersoul right now!
The Lord is the Supersoul seated in everyone’s heart, and He acts as the caitya-guru, the spiritual master within. However, He gives direct instructions only to the advanced, pure devotees.
I knew there would be some catch!
Unless you are a devotee, unless you are constantly engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, He will not speak to you. He speaks, but you cannot hear. You have no ears to hear Him. That is not possible. Krishna is speaking. Just like Krishna is speaking in the Bhagavad-gita, sarva-dharmän parityajya mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja [Bg. 18.66]. It is open speaking, but who is hearing? Nobody is hearing. Nobody is hearing. They have got their own conception of life.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 6th Nov, 1973, Delhi)
So what chance I have?
When a living entity desires to serve the Lord in transcendental loving service, the Lord helps the devotee in so many ways as the caitya-guru, or the spiritual master within, and thus the devotee can perform many wonderful activities beyond material estimation. By the mercy of the Lord even a layman can compose prayers of the highest spiritual perfection. Such spiritual perfection is not limited by material qualifications but is developed by dint of one’s sincere endeavor to render transcendental service. Voluntary endeavor is the only qualification for spiritual perfection.
We begin by taking shelter of a bona fide guru
A person in full Krishna consciousness acts by the dictation of Krishna. In the beginning of Krishna consciousness, dictation is received through the transparent medium of the spiritual master. When one is sufficiently trained and acts in submissive faith and love for Krishna under the direction of the bona fide spiritual master, the dovetailing process becomes more firm and accurate. This stage of devotional service by the devotee in Krishna consciousness is the most perfect stage of the yoga system. At this stage, Krishna, or the Supersoul, dictates from within, while from without the devotee is helped by the spiritual master, who is the bona fide representative of Krishna. From within He helps the devotee as caitya, for He is seated within the heart of everyone. Understanding that God is seated within everyone’s heart is not, however, sufficient. One has to be acquainted with God from both within and without, and one must take dictation from within and without to act in Krishna consciousness.
(We all have experienced when we are sitting with a bona-fide spiritual master or a devotee coming in proper disciplic succession, how the questions within our heart are automatically answered or explained by the such speaker, there is a solid connection via supersoul)
It’s a gradual process, coinciding with our purification level
In the beginning, when a devotee is serious and sincere, the Lord gives him directions from within to approach a bona fide spiritual master. When one is trained by the spiritual master according to the regulative principles of devotional service and is situated on the platform of spontaneous attachment for the Lord (räga-bhakti), the Lord also gives instructions from within. teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam [Bg. 10.10]. This distinct advantage is obtained by a liberated soul.
Supersoul manifests outside to help us!
One who is sincere and pure gets an opportunity to consult with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His Paramatma feature sitting within everyone’s heart. The Paramatma is always the caitya-guru, the spiritual master within, and He comes before one externally as the instructor and initiator spiritual master. The Lord can reside within the heart, and He can also come out before a person and give him instructions. Thus the spiritual master is not different from the Supersoul sitting within the heart.
Why does Supersoul need to manifests outside?
jīve sākṣāt nāhi tāte guru caittya-rūpe
śikṣā-guru haya kṛṣṇa-mahānta-svarūpe
Since one cannot visually experience the presence of the Supersoul, He appears before us as a liberated devotee. Such a spiritual master is none other than Krishna Himself.
It is not possible for a conditioned soul to directly meet Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but if one becomes a sincere devotee and seriously engages in devotional service, Lord Krishna sends an instructing spiritualmaster to show him favor and invoke his dormant propensity for serving the Supreme. The preceptor appears before the external senses of the fortunate conditioned soul, and at the same time the devotee is guided from within by the caittya-guru, Krishna, who is seated as the spiritual master within the heart of the living entity.
(CC Adi 1.58+p)
(We should not only see our spiritual master as manifestation of Krishna but also our shiksha guru and senior counselors, from whom we are taking shiksha, as being direct representatives of Krishna. Krishna has personally sent them to help us.)
Wow! can we understand it via some example?
Just like we work in some big establishment, and if we can satisfy our immediate boss, that is the satisfaction of the whole company. You haven’t got to see whether all the members of the company have become satisfied. Simply the immediate boss under which you are working, if he is satisfied, then you know the company is satisfied because he will submit the report of his work.
Similarly, Krishna is very kind. He is helping you in different ways. He is within your heart. Krishna is within your heart. Antaryami, Caitya-guru. And is presenting Himself as spiritual master both ways, externally, internally. He is trying to help you. And when you are actually taking the advantage of that help, and if you are engaged with love and affection in the transcendental service of the Lord, then you can talk with God from within. God is within you. You haven’t got to find out God in so many places. Anywhere you can sit down. But if you are sincere, if you are actually wanting to offer your service to the Lord—teñäà satata-yuktänäà bhajatäà préti-pürvakam, dadämi buddhi-yogaà tam [Bg. 10.10]—He will give you intelligence. Simply we have to become sincere servitor.
So it doesn’t matter whether one is householder or a brahmacari or sannyasi. He has to become first of all sincere servitor of the Lord. Then everything is complete. The Lord is within you. He will give you all knowledge, all enlightenment, all dictation, and He will make your life progressive.
(Srila Prabhupada lecture, 14th May 1969, Columbus)
I hope and pray that by reading the above we all can develop more faith to understand how Krishna is sitting within us as Supersoul and more importantly, we can appreciate how He is actively thinking about each one of us. Krishna loves each one of us and for those who are sincere, Krishna directly facilitates all arrangements so that we can go back to Him. For showering such love and personal care, what should be our feelings towards Krishna? And then what should be our feelings and attitude towards those great souls, whom Krishna has made His instrument of compassion and sent them to guide us in our spiritual journey. They are His direct representatives. Krishna Himself is helping every one of us internally as well as externally. Srila Prabhupada explains that there is no difference between internal instructor and external instructor. Can I work on my consciousness to see them non-different from each other?
Simply by accepting and acknowledging our spiritual master, shiksha guru and senior counselor as an external manifestation of Krishna, by valuing their association and contribution in our life, by following their instructions, we can attract further mercy of Krishna and make very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness and one day soon it may be our turn to start receiving direct instructions from someone very special within us, the stealer of hearts, Sri Krishna Chandra.
P.S. – Please use this link to read Lord Kapila describing the specific form of Supersoul residing in our heart and how yogis meditate on that divine form SB 3.28.21